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No.1 Season Opener - The Tunnels of St Quentin

No.1 Season Opener - The Tunnels of St Quentin

A great chance for an early-season escape as we join the Natalia on its transfer from its overwinter mooring in Chauny via the delightful Canal de St Quention to Cambrai

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If tunnel engineering is your passion this is an especially interesting cruise as we pass through two of them in traversing the Canal’s summit pound.  First comes the 1.1km Tunnel of Tronquoy, north of St Quentin; then the constructional wonder that is the 5.6km Grand Souterrain de Riqueval, where we pass through using a chain-tug.


This economical 7-day break will offer a good opportunity for those interested to try our tour-and-cruise model at low-season rates.   Although at the beginning of March we shouldn’t count on being entirely free of winter weather, the days are longer and we can at least relax knowing we can experience these fascinating waterways from the comfort and shelter of our heated saloon.

Day 1

On our outward travel day we aim to leave Folkestone via Eurotunnel late morning to arrive at our hotel in St Quentin by mid-afternoon. St Quentin is only 2 hours or so via Autoroute from Calais, so our timing should provide the opportunity to see something of the city's magnificent Basilica and renowned fine arts museum, failing which there will be more opportunities during the week as we stay in the same centrally-situated hotel throughout.


Day 2

Next morning we rejoin the coach for the short journey to the small town of Chauny where our cruise begins. Chauny marks the end of the Canal Lateral de L'Oise and the start of the Canal de St Quentin, which continues to track the River Oise upstream as far as the old railway town of Tergnier, where the Canal leaves the Oise Valley. For our first day of cruising we aim to continue as far as the village of Jussy. We travel 18km on the day and pass through 9 locks.

B, L, D

Day 3

On Sunday we return to Jussy and continue to follow the canal past its junction with the Canal de la Somme at St Simon, and onwards along a winding course through a succession of villages to conclude in St Quentin itself. Today's distance is 23km, with 4 locks.

B, L, D

Day 4

For Monday we resume in St Quentin, passing through 4 locks before we reach the canal's summit pound. Here we soon encounter the Tronquoy Tunnel, followed by a 7km stretch of summit level cruising before at 3pm we pass through the Riqueval Tunnel, where the passage takes nearly two hours. We conclude for the day soon after exiting the tunnel, in the village of Honnecourt-sur-Escaut. Distance cruised today is 26km, with just the 4 locks encountered in the morning and two more at the end of the day as we drop down from the summit pound.

B, L, D

Day 5

On to Tuesday, we rejoin the Natalia at Honnecourt, continuing our descent from the summit pound as we pick up the course of the River Escaut (better known as the Scheldt when it finally reaches the sea at Antwerp). The canal passes through 9 locks down to the village of Masnières where we conclude for the day having cruised 13km. Depending on their season's opening date, it should be possible for anyone interested to break out of the cruise today to visit the historic Cistercian Abbey of Vaucelles, which is very close to the canal.

B, L, D

Day 6

Wednesday is our final day of cruising taking us into the fine city of Cambrai. Re-boarding at Mesnières, we pass though another 7 locks as the canal continues its descent, and we will aim to arrive in Cambrai early in the afternoon to allow time to see the city's cathedral, St-Géry Church (with its "Entombment" Rubens painting), Fine Arts Museum and ancient city walls.

B, L, D

Day 7

On Thursday we return to Kent, but as we have plenty of time we will plan to get to the Cite Europe complex in Calais in time for lunch and shopping before a late afternoon return crossing.


B=Breakfast Included, L=Lunch Included, D =Dinner Included

What’s Included:


  • Executive Coach Travel

  • Assistance with booking taxi connections and/or hotel stay pre-departure (in Ashford)

  • Eurotunnel or ferry crossings

  • Five full days of cruising

  • Free time in St Quentin and Cambrai

  • Hotel stay at the 3* Ibis Hotel in the centre of St Quentin

  • Evening meals in the restaurant Cafe d'Univers, two minutes walk from our hotel

  • On Board lunch on all cruise days

  • Tea and coffee, soft drinks, wines and beers throughout cruising


Our Hotel:


The 3* Ibis Hotel in the centre of St Quentin is perfectly situated adjacent to the city’s magnificent basilica and offers all the facilities normally expected of a good Ibis hotel. 


This is a full-board cruise-tour including beers and wines on board the boat (but not at the hotel where you should please pay your own bar bill!)




Our tour and cruise package includes all meals with the exception of lunch on our travel days outbound and homebound. 



On Board Facilities:


Our boat has been designed to comfortably accommodate a coachload of passengers in lounge-standard seating and there is additional seating outside for those wanting to take in the views and fresh air.  There are 3 bikes on board free of charge for anyone who would like to ride the towpath.  The boats has two WC/washrooms and a galley. Tea, coffee, soft drinks, beers and wines are always available at no charge.  There is no smoking on board.



Environmental Policies


Our boat is hybrid-engined and normally charges overnight from shore supply.  Its diesel engines are only used if battery power is exhausted, so most of the time you can look forward to silent cruising.  The saloon roof is bedecked with solar panels which reinforce battery endurance and support the boat's air conditioning system.


We also operate to a strict waste-avoidance policy.  We try to completely avoid the use of single-use plastics and we operate to a responsible recycling code.  All meals and drinks on board are served using normal crockery, cutlery and glassware.  Our crew also has a brief to support the recovery from rivers and canals of floating litter whenever this is practicable.



Departure from Kent:


Anyone from further afield please feel welcome to join us on this or any other Buzzlines tour.  We are happy to arrange parking for you here in Kent, or we can pick you up from Ashford International Station – only 37 minutes by HS1 from London St Pancras – and help you to find overnight hotel or B&B stops. 



International Guests


If you are an international visitor and you would like to book a cruise/tour with Backwaters whilst you are already in France, you are welcome to make your own way to the hotel and join the tour there.

Below is a list of pick-up points available on this tour.

Below is a list of pick-up points available on this tour.

Name Address Contact Details
Ashford International Htl Ashford International Hotel
Folkestone Bus Station Bay E, Folkestone

If you wish to make an online booking please follow these instructions:-
1. Select the number of passengers required to check the availability
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Note: If the trip is unavailable, please use the Call Back facility to enquire about being put on the waiting list for this tour or to explore other possibilities

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08 Mar
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Contact Us

Buzzlines Travel
Unit G1, Lympne Distribution Park, Lympne, Nr. Hythe, Kent, CT21 4LR
01303 261 870

Opening Hours

Monday – Friday
09:00hrs – 17:00hrs

Saturday & Sunday